Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

Sick of the same old fish? Crusting fish with nuts, seeds, or herbs adds great flavor and is very simple. Toasting pecans really makes them 'come alive', so make sure not to skip that important step. I served this fish with quick broiled zucchini slices, but any green vegetable will do. An added bonus to this meal: It will take less than 15 minutes to make, including prep!

2 large pieces of tilapia (or 4 small)
1/4 cup of pecans, toasted
extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
lemon wedges for serving

1. Preheat broiler

2. Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Put a large pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the butter and about a teaspoon of oil.

3. When butter/oil mixture is melted and hot, add tilapia. Let sear (don't push it around.)

4. While tilapia is searing, prepare the pecans by combining them in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, a little salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste).

5. Flip the tilapia and evenly distribute the pecan mixture over the fish. Transfer to the broiler. (Pay attention while broiling as nuts burn quickly. ) Fish should go under the broiler for less than a minute. (If you have particularly thick pieces of fish, leave the second side on the stove for a minute or two longer to make sure they're cooked through.)

6. Take out of the oven and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Printable version here.

Quick-Broiled Zucchini Slices

The one thing every cook should know about zucchini is that they like HIGH HEAT. Therefore, grilling, roasting, and broiling work best when cooking these tender summer squash. When in a time pinch, try this method.

4 small zucchini
salt and pepper (or seasoning salt and pepper)
olive oil

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cut ends off zucchini. Then slice a very thin piece off one side to give the zucchini "feet" to stand on so that it won't roll around while slicing. Slice thinly. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

3. Place on a baking sheet. (If they are piled on top of each other, they will steam so make sure they are placed alongside each other.) Spray or brush with olive oil (use only a little bit).

4. Salt and pepper sparingly.

5. Place under the broiler, keeping an eye on them so they don't burn. When they have a little golden color and look tender, they are done.

Serves 2.

Printable version here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon

Growing up, whenever I brought a good report card home, my mother let me choose the meal for the night. I absolutely always chose steak. A perfectly cooked steak on the grill, with some easy sides, is my idea of a perfect meal. I always use filet (which does mean that I cook it less often....and that's OK with me) because it is so lean yet tender. More affordable choices would be flank, skirt, or sirloin steaks. Think that red meat isn't part of a healthy diet? Think again. Red meat is loaded with protein, iron, and B12 vitamins. Always choose lean cuts of meat, and experts suggest that we try not to eat more than 1 serving a week...but there is no need to cut it out completely. I serve these steaks with a side salad, steamed broccoli, and quick-cooked sweet potatoes with thyme.

2 6-oz. filets
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the grill to high heat.

2. With a paper towel, blot the steaks to make sure they are dry. On both sides, generously salt and pepper. (This helps create the crust on the steak, so don't be shy unless you have blood pressure/heart conditions that limit salt).

3. Put the steaks on the grill and don't touch. They will naturally release when ready to be turned. (Note: NEVER press on meat (steaks, burgers, chicken, etc) on the grill....it will just cause the meat to release its juices, leaving you with dry meat.)

4. After meat is ready to be relased (5 minutes or so), flip. Cook to desired tenderness.

Guide to determining doneness of meat: With your hand relaxed, feel the fleshy part between your thumb and pointer finger. This is how a raw steak will feel. Now tighten that area by stretching your thumb and forefingers--this is a super well-done steak. From there, if you release it a little, this is a medium-well. A little more is a medium. A little more is medium-rare, and mostly relaxed is rare. If you like your steaks pink in the middle but cooked through, go for medium. This is the midway point between relaxed and tensed.

Printable version here.

Quick-Cooked Sweet Potatoes with Thyme

If you don't have time to bake a sweet potato, try this method--it takes less than 15 minutes and is totally satisfying.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt/seasoning salt

1. Put a large pan over high heat. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, add sweet potatoes and let cook for a few minutes.

2. Add thyme, salt, pepper, and chicken broth and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook for 10 minutes or until almost cooked through.

3. Take cover off and let broth evaporate until potatoes are completely cooked.

Printable version here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Rhubarb Salsa

Rhubarb is a vegetable that grows in the spring. It is available in most grocery stores right now, or can be bought frozen year-round. It has large triangular leaves that are toxic, but the stalks are perfectly edible and have a delicious, tart flavor. The color of the stalks vary from green to speckled pink to red, all of which can be used. Rhubarb is loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Calcium. Most often it is seen in pies or other desserts, but I made a double batch of this salsa, from bigoven, with lamb chops for Easter and had some left over, so I created this super easy and tasty dinner. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Salsa:

1 c. chopped onions
2/3 c dark or golden raisins
2 T Red wine vinegar
4 t chopped jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t ground cardamon
6 c fresh or frozen sliced rhubarb
salt and pepper


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, slightly pounded
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 c olive oil
1 T herbes de provence
salt and pepper

1. Combine lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and herbes de provence in a freezer bag. Add chicken breasts, making sure all are coated, and place in the fridge to marinade. (Because this uses citrus juice, do not marinade for more than an hour.)

2. Make salsa. In a large saucepan, combine the onions, raisins, honey, vinegar, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and cardamon. Stir in rhubarb. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring as little as possible. Uncover and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid slightly. Stir only if necessary to prevent scorching. Set aside. (This can be made ahead and refrigerated).

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Put chicken on grill for 5 minutes. Flip. Cook until cooked through, another 3-5 minutes or so. Serve with salsa.

Serves 4.

Printable version here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Deviled Eggs

Got a bunch of leftover hard-boiled eggs? I am always amazed by how quickly deviled eggs go at a party. They are sort of 50's and retro, but everyone loves them. So I made them for my Easter brunch with a little twist and they were devoured.

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Carefully put all the egg yolks in a bowl. Combine with mayonnaise, mustard, and mascarpone. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Using a small ice cream scoop, a teaspoon, or a piping bag, refill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.

Makes 24 deviled eggs.

Printable version here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eyes darted around the dining room table. What would have been a pleasant evening had taken on the hue of a pointed mystery thriller. The shiny new knives in each guest's hand were suddenly being held with fervent grips. Who was responsible? Something...or someone....had caused these blue rings around the hard boiled egg yolks....

Then, all of a sudden, the front door creaked open, and in walked an unbelievably attractive blonde chick who whispered something into the cook's ear...then, she was gone. The cook stood up at the head of the table, cleared his throat, and shed a tear. "My beloved guests," he blustered, "My sincerest aplogies. I cooked the eggs... too long." All the guests turned to each other with a satisfied smile. It was then that they heard the shriek in the den and noticed a candlestick was missing...

Raw eggs

1. Place eggs gently into the bottom of a wide pot. Cover with cold water.

2. Bring to a boil. As soon as the water reaches a boil, turn the flame off, cover tightly, and let sit exactly 8 minutes.

3. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Dry and store in the fridge.

Printable version here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chicken Soba Noodle Salad

(Sorry, guys...I don't have a pic for this one but I didn't want to wait any longer to give you your budget meal. I'll make it again soon so I can give you a nice pic!)

Soba noodles are super healthy, as they are loaded with fiber and protein. This salad can be served warm or cold, so it's perfect for a picnic or just keeping in the fridge as a healthy go-to.

1 Package Soba Noodles
2 Tablespoons peanut butter, creamy
2 Tablespoons Lite soy sauce
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 Tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons honey
1 Rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
1/2 c. julienned carrots
1 yellow or red pepper, julienned
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
Handful roasted and salted cashews, chopped

1. Boil soba noodles according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, mix peanut butter and n ext 9 ingredients (through honey) with whisk.

3. Add carrots, peppers, chicken, cooked noodles, and cilantro. Toss thoroughly.

4. Top with cashews.

Yields 4 servings.

Printable version here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Someone Loves You" Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a good recipe to make for anyone who's feeling a little bit down. Hey, they can run an extra mile on the treadmill when they're feeling better!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup all-natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chocolate bar cut into chunks)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (or chocolate bar cut into chunks)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cream the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until light. Add the egg and mix until fluffy.

3. Blend the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt with a whisk. Add these dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Add the dark and white chocolate.

4. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls down on a lightly greased baking sheet (or silpat mat). Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden.

Printable version here.